New â€œKnockoutâ€ Qualifying and Chase Format Create New Challenges With all the excitement around NASCARâ€™s competition changes for Talladega Superspeedwayâ€™s Aaronâ€™s Dream Weekend, May 2-4, added pressure and a sense of urgency will now be felt like never before by the Crew Chief and team engineers who set up the cars and make the hard decisions at NASCARâ€™s biggest and most challenging venue
by Dave Grayson Like many of you, I spent a Friday and Saturday evening in front of a television set watching NASCAR Live On Fox from Darlington International Raceway in South Carolina. After all, any race track with the names "the track too tough to tame" and "the lady in black" was bound to turn up some excitement. It was apparent that the racing gremlins that sent a lot of bad luck in the direction of Kevin Harvick in recent weeks didn't get the memo that he was racing at Darlington. Harvick led 238 laps of the Bojangles Southern 500 to win a race that for decades has been known as "the grand daddy of them all."
Bojangles Southern 500 The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season has been one of feast or famine for Kevin Harvick and on Saturday night at Darlington Raceway, Harvick enjoyed the delectable taste of victory. Passing Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the next-to-last lap of the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish, Harvick won Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 and all but locked himself into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the first two-time winner in the series this year.
Fresh tires make the difference Joey Logano won the Duck Commander 500 under a green-white-checkered, expanding the number of drivers to win a race this season to seven. Logano restarted in third, with Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers winning the race off pit road by only taking two tires. Logano's fresh tires would give him the edge, regaining the lead position and taking the checkered flag ahead of Gordon. Kyle Busch won the battle for third, with Vickers a position behind him.
Bests Brad Keselowski for the pole late Saving his best effort for the last possible second, Tony Stewart won the pole for Sunday's Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. During the third round of knockout qualifying Saturday afternoon at the 1.5-mile track, Stewart began his money lap in the final half-minute of the session and completed it after the five-minute clock ticked down to zero, ending the session. Stewart (195.454 mph) edged Brad Keselowski, who has made a habit of front-row starts under the qualifying format NASCAR introduced this year
Beats Kyle Busch When Chase Elliott took the checkered flag in Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, cementing his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, spotter Earl Barban had a message for him. "I want to see the best burnout ever," Barban told the 18-year-old son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott. Chase Elliott obliged, laying a thick could of smoke from the exit of the tri-oval back to the flag stand.
Ends 83 race winless streak On Sunday at historic Martinsville Speedway, the driver known as "The Outlaw" committed highway robbery. Bullying his way past six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson with 11 laps left in Sundayâ€™s STP 500 at the 0.526-mile short track, Kurt Busch held on to edge Johnson by 0.263 seconds, denying Johnson a ninth Martinsville victory. A Martinsville winner in 2002, Busch added a second victory at Sprint Cupâ€™s oldest current venue to his resume. Buschâ€™s 25th career victory was his first triumph in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and the first victory as a Sprint Cup crew chief for Daniel Knost.
Hamlin will start 2nd Last week's race winner and last week's absentee combined to sweep the front row for Joe Gibbs Racing in Friday's knockout qualifying session at Martinsville Speedway. Kyle Busch ran the fastest lap in the round that counted, edging teammate Denny Hamlin for the top starting spot in Sundayâ€™s STP 500 at the venerable 0.526-mile short track. The Coors Light Pole Award was Buschâ€™s first of the season, his first at Martinsville and the 14th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. The only driver to run under 19 seconds in the decisive second round (18.998 seconds), Busch posted the top speed of 99.674 mph on his second lap in the session.
by Dave Grayson I must admit I was rather surprised to learn that The Great Gonzo, of Muppets fame, was named to be the Grand Marshall for the Auto Club 400. I found myself asking: "seriously? A Muppet puppet is going to give the command to start engines?
NASCAR tire issues: Where the rubber meets the road
by Dave Grayson Okay, everyone from Goodyear engineers, NASCAR officials, crew chiefs, car chiefs, drivers, the media and the fans have had some time to digest the issue of tire wear that was presented during last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Auto Club Speedway. The situation was not good. In the aftermath of the race it was reported that the rash of flat tires impacted nearly 50 per cent of the starting field and was a factor in five of the seven caution flags in the race.
by Dave Grayson When it comes to watching NASCAR racing at the Auto Club Speedway, sometimes you have to be patient and wait until the waning laps of the event in order to witness the drama unfold. The middle portion of these events can be somewhat tedious sometimes. However, in recent years, the two mile oval, located in Fontana-California, has developed a rock steady reputation for presenting finishes that makes the fans jump to their feet as well as making fans, watching at home, jump off of their couches while yelling at their televisions.
This time Kyle Busch comes out on top over Larson In Saturday's Nationwide race at Auto Club Raceway Kyle Larson outdueled Kyle Busch for the win, but on Sunday in the Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 it was Busch who beat rookie Larson to the flag. Of course it was Jimmie Johnson who led the most laps and was pulling away for the win before his Goodyear tire blew with only 7 laps to go. Goodyear tires were blowing up all day long so it came as no shock that Johnson ended up 24th.
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